Wisdom

The thread of wisdom winds through Jacob’s time working for Laban (Genesis 30), and is mentioned in the same day’s reading in Matthew 11 and Proverbs 2.

Jacob used some questionable animal husbandry methods, but God still chose to bless him. The results of his selective breeding techniques made him a rich man, “with large flocks of sheep and goats, female and male servants, and many camels and donkeys” (Genesis 30:43 NLT). God provided the wisdom and the increase in his life.

“Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow” (James 1:17).

Jesus mentions wisdom when he rebukes the Jews for not wanting to believe John’s words, or to believe in Jesus himself. They judged both of them for opposite reasons, and refused to see the works Jesus did as signs of his divinity.

“For John didn’t spend his time eating and drinking, and you say, ‘He’s possessed by a demon.’ The Son of Man, on the other hand, feasts and drinks, and you say, ‘He’s a glutton and a drunkard, and a friend of tax collectors and other sinners!’ But wisdom is shown to be right by its results (Matthew 11:18-19).

What results was He speaking of? He spelled it out in verse 5: “the blind see, the lame walk, those with leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor.”

The wisdom of God brings results!

How have you seen God provide wisdom in your life, and what results have you seen come from applying it?

May we lean on God’s wisdom above our own, and see the results of it in our own lives.

If you enjoy these threads through the Living Word, you can follow along with the same reading plan! Follow the “Chasing Truth AG Women” plan on the YouVersion Bible app.


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Fear

Today’s thread topic of fear does not describe the cowardly, but the reverent person who holds God in his rightful place. There is a progression of fear in the day’s passages* found in Genesis and Matthew, beginning with Jacob’s dream (Genesis 28) and ending with Jesus teaching his disciples to fear God alone (Matthew 10:28).

The Beginning of Fear

In Jacob’s dream He sees God standing at the top of the stairway. I think that would be enough to inspire fear in any of us! Not only does he see God, he hears God speaking to him. God doesn’t ask anything of him at all, but promises him a lot–the land he was sleeping on, countless descendants through whom the world would be blessed, and God’s own presence to protect him wherever he went. He wakes up, afraid.

“Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I wasn’t even aware of it!” But he was also afraid and said, “What an awesome place this is! It is none other than the house of God, the very gateway to heaven!” (Genesis 28:16-17 NLT).

His fear didn’t last long. In the morning he set up his stone pillow up and said,

If God will indeed be with me and protect me on this journey, and if he will provide me with food and clothing, and if I return safely to my father’s home, then the LORD will certainly be my God. And this memorial pillar I have set up will become a place for worshiping God, and I will present to God a tenth of everything he gives me” (Genesis 28:20-22).

That’s a lot of “ifs” for someone who had just seen God and heard his voice! Jacob hadn’t known God long enough yet to understand His character, or His rightful place as Lord of heaven and earth. He had heard about his father’s and grandfather’s dealings with God, but had no personal experience to go on. That experience would come over time, and his trust in and reverence for God would grow and develop in depth and scope. But at this stage, Jacob wasn’t ready yet to hand over the reins of his life.

Fear’s Goal

It may seem to be a strange thing to say that fear has a goal, but let’s think on this for a moment. Fear usually has an object. I’m afraid of spiders jumping on me, although none ever has. The fear we’re discussing today is focused on God, knowing what the Psalmist did:

“Arise, O Lord! Do not let mortals defy you! Judge the nations! Make them tremble in fear, O Lord. Let the nations know they are merely human” (Psalm 9:20).

When we get a reality check and realize that we are “merely human,” and at the same time become aware of the majesty and power of our Creator, we learn a new dimension of fear. That new dimension should affect what we do and how we do it from then on. There is Someone greater than us who is holding us accountable for our actions!

No fear in this life should be greater to us than the reverence He is due as Lord of our lives. Our response to Him in this life will determine his response to us in eternity.

“Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28).

“Everyone who acknowledges me publicly here on earth, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But everyone who denies me here on earth, I will also deny before my Father in heaven” (Matthew 10:32-33).

“If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it” (Matthew 10:39).

Fear’s goal is to affect our outlook, which will affect our lifestyle.

Balanced Fear

We are to fear God by giving him the honor and reverence He’s due, and by making pleasing him a priority over any fears we may experience on this earth. Fear of what others might say about us, fear of what they may do to us, fear of what we may lose, none of it matters when compared to the reward waiting in heaven for those who remain true to God in this life no matter the cost.

“For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!” (2 Corinthians 4:17)

The more time we spend in this life getting to know the character of God, the more we learn about his goodness and his faithfulness. We learn that He is trustworthy, and his Word is true. We realize that He is able to manage our lives much better than we ever could, and that He cares about us and for us. His plans and purposes for us are greater than anything we could dream up, and reach beyond us to the generations coming after us. We begin to know him as our Father.

“But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows” (Matthew 10:28-31).

Why would we fear death when we know that our Father is waiting on the other side?

What’s Your Fear Status?

Our fear of the Lord is affected by our relationship to him, and changes as we learn to know his character. From the first fearful realization that He exists and is greater than us, to knowing that we can place our very lives in his hands, we grow to rely on his power at work within us to overcome any fears we may face. We learn trust and confidence in who He is.

How’s your fear level, my friend? Are you learning more and more about who God is? Are you learning to trust him over your fears? Take some time today to look back at what He has done in your life. Write it all down if you have to. He really is your Good Father! Decide today to trust him with your life, and to keep him in his rightful place as Lord over all.

If you enjoy these threads through the Living Word, you can follow along with the same reading plan! Follow the “Chasing Truth AG Women” plan on the YouVersion Bible app.


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Journeys

Today’s journey thread winds through Jacob’s being sent to his uncle’s home (Genesis 28) and the sending out of the 12 disciples (Matthew 10). In both instances, there was an underlying purpose for the journey, a destination, a mission to accomplish, instructions for what to do on the way as well as what to do on arrival, and finally, a promise of divine intervention.

The Purpose

Isaac sent Jacob out to his uncle’s in order to find a wife. Esau had married local gals, and they made Isaac and Rebekah miserable. He didn’t want to go through that again with his second son! Rebekah had a bit to do with Isaac’s decision, but her motivation was a bit more pressing. She didn’t want Esau to murder Jacob after being tricked out of his birthright and his blessing, so sending Jacob away just might save his life.

Jesus sent his disciples out to preach, heal and deliver. Why? In Matthew 9:37-38 He said, “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields” (NLT). The disciples were the answer to their own prayers!

Did you know that you have been sent out with a purpose? Matthew 28: 19-20 gives us our journey’s purpose:

“Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

We are to go! The world needs the message we carry.

The Destination

Jacob was sent to his uncle’s home, and nowhere else. The disciples in Matthew 10 were sent to the people of Israel, and to no one else (yet!).

Who are we sent to? “All the nations!” There is no one unloved by our Father that He wants to leave out of his promises. “He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent” (2 Peter 3:9). We may not have the means or the time to travel to every part of the planet, but we have untold opportunities right in front of us every day to be salt and light. We just need to go where God leads us, to whom He sends us!

The Mission

Jacob’s mission was to find a wife. The mission for the disciples was to heal and deliver, and preach that the Kingdom of Heaven was near.

Our mission is to spread the good news of salvation all over the world (make disciples), get them baptized, and teach them the truths of God. If we cannot go far we can support those who can through financial means, but the importance of prayer support cannot be over emphasized.

The Instructions

Jacob was instructed to stay away from the local girls, and to go directly to his uncle’s home to find a wife.

The disciples were instructed to go to the people of Israel, but not to the Gentiles or Samaritans (the lost sheep had wandered away, and they got the first opportunity to follow the Good Shepherd once again). They were not to plan ahead and pack anything, but to trust God for provision. Not only that, but when they were taken to court, they were to trust God for his wisdom and the very words they were to say!

Each of us has a specific travel plan mapped out for us, and our instructions may differ. Here’s what I mean. There are times we feel God leading us to a certain place, and once we’re there we discover the why, as well as who is there needing what we have to offer. We need to keep our ears open to his leading, and follow the instructions He has for us!

Divine Intervention

Jacob had received his father’s blessing and prayer for many descendants as well as a return to the land that God had promised to give to Abraham. None of that would have eventually taken place if Jacob didn’t receive protection and help from God.

The disciples were given the authority of Jesus to do what He sent them to do–heal and deliver, and preach the good news. They were to bless the worthy home, and trust God for wisdom when needed.

On our journey, we are promised divine intervention as well. As we search for God and his leading, we know He will answer our heart’s cry.

“Those who know your name trust in you, for you, O Lord, do not abandon those who search for you” (Psalm 9:10).

When we need wisdom, we can be sure to find it!

“For the Lord grants wisdom! From his mouth come knowledge and understanding. He grants a treasure of common sense to those who walk with integrity” (Proverbs 2:6-7)

Not only will he provide wisdom for our journey, He is protecting us along the way.

“He guards the path of the just and protects those who are faithful to him” (Proverbs 2:8).

My friend, may you follow God wholeheartedly, and find joy on your journey as you trust him to lead and guide, protect and provide!

If you enjoy these threads through the Living Word, you can follow along with the same reading plan! Follow the “Chasing Truth AG Women” plan on the YouVersion Bible app.


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Authority

The thread of authority winds through the story of the way Rebekah came to be Isaac’s wife (Genesis 24); a busy day in the life of Jesus which included healings, deliverances, and calming a storm on the water (Matthew 8); the authority given to humans over creation itself from the beginning (Psalm 8); and a promise of peace for those who submit to wisdom (Proverbs 1:33).

God’s Authority

God is the final authority on everything. There is no one or no thing that has more say about how things are going to go than He! He is over all. We see this through Jesus’ day as he heals the sick, frees those possessed by demons, and tells the weather what to do. He has authority over the physical, the spiritual, and the natural.

We see it in the way God answers the specific prayer of Abraham’s servant. He asked for a certain unfolding of events so that he would know who to take home to be Isaac’s wife, and everything happened just as he asked. God’s authority over all was seen played out in Rebekah’s words and actions almost immediately.

Delegated Authority

Although God is the the final link in the chain of command, He has delegated some of that authority to mankind, and to followers of Christ as we are now his children. We still work the ground to grow food, we still manipulate the land to make it beautiful, and we still train animals to follow our commands. We naturally try to exercise authority over our surroundings very early in life!

“You gave them charge of everything you made, putting all things under their authority—the flocks and the herds and all the wild animals, the birds in the sky, the fish in the sea, and everything that swims the ocean currents” (Psalm 8:6-8 NLT).

As followers of Christ, we have an extra layer of authority He has delegated to us.

“You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it!” (John 14:13-14).

This is not a magic formula for getting what we want! When we ask for something “in his name,” we are asking as if we were Christ himself. We are taking on his identity, along with his desires.

If I show up at Buckingham Palace in my own name, I won’t get very far! But if I come in the name of the Queen, should she give me authority to do so, I will be escorted inside.

Do I arrive at the palace in my beach bum clothes? Or perhaps my muddy gardening boots? I really don’t think either choice would go over well at all! I would need to dress and act appropriately for the occasion.

As Christ’s ambassadors here on earth, we are to live as his representatives. When we pray, we should pray according to his will.

“I tell you the truth, you will ask the Father directly, and he will grant your request because you use my name. You haven’t done this before. Ask, using my name, and you will receive, and you will have abundant joy” (John 16:23-24).

Under Authority

The authority He has delegated to us does come with limits, mind you! One of those limits comes through submission to him, which brings along with it the covering of his care. Proverbs 1 is a call from Wisdom for everyone to listen. Would you agree that God is the author of wisdom? If so, it seems that following the path of wisdom will lead us to following God’s will. Look at the outcome:

“For simpletons turn away from me—to death. Fools are destroyed by their own complacency. But all who listen to me will live in peace, untroubled by fear of harm“ (Proverbs 1:32-33).

We are to live in the middle of the chain of command–under God, but living in Christ’s authority as we pray his will over our lives and the lives of others.

Are you living in the authority God has given you? 

What can you do to become more aware of the position He has placed you in as a link in the chain of command, and to live accordingly?


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